School News

  • Virtual Family Information Sessions

    Our Virtual Family Information Session Schedule
    In order to provide more information to families interested in having their student apply to ACCESS Academy and entering our lottery process, we have set up family information and tours monthly starting in January of 2021 at our Elementary program at Vestal and our Middle School program at Lane. Due to COVID-19 social distancing and stay-at-home requirements, we are offering virtual tours for the 2021-22 school year lottery.
    We will provide an introduction and general information about the program and application process by administration, followed by a chance to talk to current families about their experience with the program.
    You can also learn more about applying to ACCESS Academy through this online presentation. We also encourage you to contact to connect with current ACCESS families and students to learn about their experiences at ACCESS. 


    2020-21 school year  Elementary School Informational Slide Deck
    2020-21 school year Middle School Informational Slide Deck

    Dates of Information Sessions


    ACCESS @ Vestal Elementary

    ACCESS @ Lane

     Middle School

    Secretary Contact

    Janae Merritt

    (503) 916-6483

    Susie Fung

    (503) 916-6482


    Tues - Jan 19, 2021

    6:00pm - 7:00pm

    Wed - Jan 20, 2021

    6:00pm - 7:00pm


    Wed - Feb 17, 2021

    6:00pm – 7:00pm

    Tues - Feb 16, 2021

    6:00pm – 7:00pm


    Mon - Mar 8, 2021

    6:00pm - 7:00pm

    Thurs - Mar 11, 2021

     6:00pm - 7:00pm 


    Tues, Apr 7, 2021

    6:00pm - 7:00pm

    Mon, Apr 6, 2021

    6:00pm - 7:00pm 


    Thurs - May 6, 2021

    4:00pm - 5:00pm

    Mon - May 3, 2021 

    4:00pm - 5:00pm

  • ACCESS Academy Students Win C-Span Competition

    C-SPAN has announced the winners in their national 2020 StudentCam competition. ACCESS Academy students Dorothy Swanson Blaker, Malia Lee and Ania Leonardo are third prize winners and will receive $750 for their documentary, Renewable Resolutions: Solar 2020 (watch it at
    Learn more in the SE Examiner Article
  • Dr. Garcia-Arriola named to Circle of Excellence by OnPoint CCU

    Dr. Garcia-Arriola, middle school science teacher at ACCESS Academy, was named to the Circle of Excellence by Circle of Excellence by OnPoint Community Credit Union. This award comes with a $1,500 cash prize for Dr. Garcia-Arriola and a $1,000 donation to ACCESS Academy. Congratulations, Dr. Garcia-Arriola, on this recognition of your outstanding work as an educator! See the full article here
  • Writer-in-Residence Rosanne Parry

    Award-winning local author Rosanne Parry will be Writer-in-Residence at ACCESS Academy for elementary grades throughout the Read-a-thon, providing writing workshops and culminating in a Family Literacy Celebration on Friday January 31 from 6:30-7:30. 
  • Renée Watson visited ACCESS, October 2019

    Renee Watson at Vestal Auditorium

    Award-winning author Renée Watson gave presentations at both ACCESS campuses in October. Ms. Watson is a Portland native whose writing focuses on the lived experiences of black girls and women and explores themes of identity, home, and the intersection of race, gender and class. As she explained to students at Vestal, she writes “so girls who look like me can see themselves in books, and so people who don’t look like me can get to know girls who look like me.”

  • Inclement Weather Policy

    There are three ways we send messages to families about delays, closures and other weather-related decisions:

    • Phone calls: Automated calls, in all supported languages (Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, Russian and Somali), will be placed to the primary number listed on each student’s registration. If you’ve changed your number recently, please update it with your school.
    • Email: An automated message will be sent to the email address you listed in your child’s registration. The message will be translated into our five supported languages.
    • Text message: You will receive a text message on your cell phone, but first you’ll have to opt in to the SchoolMessenger system by texting “Yes” or just “Y” to 68453. If you opt in, you will still receive an auto-dialer call. Texts go to parent and staff phone numbers registered with the district.

    We also post updates online:

    • Twitter: Follow our account, @PPSConnect.
    • Facebook: Connect with us at
    • Our website: Go to net and look for a yellow bar across the top of the page. That’s where you’ll find more detailed information, such as snow routes for buses. Messages will be translated.
  • Announcing new principal at ACCESS Academy, Ginger Taylor

    July 22, 2019

    Printable version of announcement

    Dear ACCESS Community,

    I am pleased to announce that Ginger Taylor will become the new principal of ACCESS Academy. Ginger is a veteran educator who has worked in Portland Public Schools for 15 years, and she brings a deep background as a counselor and student advocate and is dedicated to equity of educational access for all students.

    Ginger will succeed Krista Blovad, who served as principal this past school year. We thank Krista for her leadership.

    The last three years, Ginger served as vice principal at Lincoln High School, where she lead work focused on Multi-Tiered System of Supports and intervention, dropout prevention, school climate, special education and English Language Learners programs. She worked collaboratively with Lincoln’s Whole Child stakeholder groups, site council, equity team, and PLC leaders to pair the strong IB academic programming with evidence-based academic and social-emotional supports and interventions for students.

    From 2010-2012, Ginger served as the vice principal of Summer Scholars, becoming the administrator for both Portland Evening and Summer Scholars programs in 2012. PESS programs support on-time graduation, enrolling over 1,700 students from across 20 different high schools and programs. Under her leadership, PESS was credited with increasing the PPS graduation rate by 3% each year.

    Ginger served as a school counselor for eight years, starting at Harriet Tubman Middle School before settling in at Benson Polytechnic High School, where she served from 2005 to 2012. As a school counselor leader at the district, state, and national levels, Ginger served on several advocacy teams with the College Board. Ginger helped shape and deploy the first national survey of school counselors sponsored by the College Board. The results of this national survey have resulted in elevating the work of school counselors.

    Before moving into education, Ginger was a certified therapist and case manager for many years, working with adolescents in dual diagnosis day and residential treatment.

    Ginger earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Sociology from Western Oregon State College, a Master of Education and School Counseling from Lewis & Clark College, and completed her School Administration program at Portland State University. She has deep ties to Portland and attended K-12 at PPS schools, and is a graduate of Jefferson High School.

    Ginger is married to a math teacher-turned-school administrator, and they have two grown daughters. Ginger loves everything having to do with the outdoors, traveling, classic rock and roll, and shares that “family is everything!”

    You will have a chance to meet Ginger on Wednesday, Aug. 21, when she hosts a meet-and-greet in the Lane cafeteria starting at 5:30 p.m. Please join me in welcoming Principal Taylor to ACCESS Academy.

    Keeley Simpson, Ed.D.
    Regional Superintendent

  • ACCESS Girl Scout Bronze Award Brightens School

    The 5th grade ACCESS Girl Scouts spent this year talking about human energy--the power they have inside of themselves and what they're capable of doing with it. The girls decided that for their Bronze Award project that they wanted to spread a positive message with their energy. The idea was simple: paint positive and inspirational quotes in the ACCESS girls’ bathroom at Vestal. They met several times with Byron Booze from PPS Facilities to discuss how to do the project properly. They researched and selected quotes they thought would be inspirational for elementary-school girls (drawing on the multi-lingual ACCESS parent community to translate one of the quotes into seven languages). They submitted their ideas for approval. And finally, they worked long Fridays to get the quotes painted onto the walls.

    Window Quote  
  • Caring Teacher Award

    1st/2nd grade teacher Mr. Ryneal was nominated by ACCESS Academy parents for the Caring Teacher/Educator Positive Impact Award. Today the director of the Children's Program notified Assistant Principal Jamieson that Mr. Ryneal was selected as a recipient! Along with the award comes $200 for classroom expenses. Congratulations Josh! The award letter also included comments from the nominating parents:
    "He takes time to catch kids doing good things, he reinforces them, and he takes the time to give parents positive feedback and updates on progress. PPS needs more teacher like him."
    "He has helped our daughter so much to be successful academically and socially and really cares about her as a person."
    "His positive strong leadership style has created a safe environment for all students - both physically and emotionally."
    "I am beyond grateful for the teaching, coaching, and support that Josh has provided to my son and the rest of the class."
  • Arts Coordinator

    David and I are excited to share our work with Young Audiences and our Arts Coordinator, Genevieve Stevens-Johnson, who is in charge of booking amazing opportunities for arts related opportunities for our students. She has been hard at work researching potential author visits, trips, residencies, and enrichment for our students that align with curriculum, access for all students, focus on diversity, and shared events for ES and MS. We are thrilled with what we have on the calendar so far and also for events in the works. 

    I asked Genevieve to share a bit about herself and the work she is engaged in for us. She will also be coming to staff meetings in January at both sites, to get input from staff around class and grade level trips. 


    My name is Genevieve Stevens-Johnson and I could not be more pleased that I've been asked to serve as the arts coordinator for the Access program. A little of my background:

    I have taught K-5 general music, choir, and strings in public schools for seventeen years. In addition, I have experience performing professionally in both music and drama. I love serving in a coordinating capacity and have served on several non-profit boards, including as the treasurer and member-at-large for Vibe of Portland. I am currently the President Elect for the Southern Washington and Oregon Kodaly Educators (

    My passion lies in promoting and finding ways to provide music and arts to the widest possible audience of children, with a particular focus on addressing issues of equity and inclusion.

    I am excited to work with staff and families to organize arts experiences for the students in the Access program. My goal is to provide experiences across all grade levels, including several opportunities for all students to come together. I've already had a chance to meet with some teachers and staff members, as well as parents, and our work is moving forward beautifully. Please see the list of upcoming booked events and field trips below, and keep an eye out for updates as more events are verified in the coming weeks.


    Karida Griffith Walker

    Karida Griffith (Performer, Instructor, Choreographer) is a Portland native who has established an extensive dance career in New York. A student of the one and only Sally Mack, Karida’s dance career took off when she was cast in the European tour of the Broadway hit Black and Blue, working with the great Henry LeTang, Dianne Walker, Bunny Briggs, Germaine Goodson, Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards and others.

    After completing her business degree at NYU, Karida became a Radio City Rockette, where she performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, Sinatra, on The Today Show and The Tony Awards. Karida was also a dancer for Cirque du Soleil, and was a featured dancer in multiple episodes of the HBO hit series Boardwalk Empire.

    Currently a member of the critically-acclaimed tap dance company Dorrance Dance, Karida was also honored to be a member of select companies including the Cotton Club Sophisticated Ladies with Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards, T.A.D.A.H. with Jared Grimes, Mable Lee’s Ladies, Barbara Duffy & Company, and has also performed with Chloe Arnold’s Syncopated Ladies. In addition, Karida was the producer of Creations: Choreographic Introductions, which featured her own choreography along with early works of Dana Foglia, Mishay Petronelli, Chloe Arnold, Michelle Dorrance and Claudia Rahardjanoto.

    Karida has been on the tap dance faculty at the renowned Broadway Dance Center in New York, and a Professor in Pace University’s cutting-edge BFA Commercial Dance program. She has taught at festivals and conventions throughout North America.

    Based again in Portland, Karida is the founder of the annual PDX Tap Intensive, is a performing artist for Young Audiences of Oregon, and a member of the West African Dance Company, Sebe Kan. As she has for the past 16 years, Karida continues to work with the The Children’s Theatre Company, a non-profit organization which fosters the belief that, through the arts, children can become agents of positive change and healing in the world.

    Signature Project

  • Girls on the Run

    We are looking at setting up a Girl’s on the Run team for ACCESS @ Vestal. We need coaches to make this happen. The time commitment would be 90 minutes twice a week after school from March to May with one Saturday. If you are interested please send David an email. For more information please visit this website:

  • Principals' Coffee Dates & Times for Rest of Year

    David and I set up the "Coffee with David & Krista" dates for the rest of the year. We varied the days, locations, and times up the days and times in response to family requests. We also coincided them with other events that families would already be at, to lessen travel times. 

    Attached are the dates, times, and locations for the remainder of the year. Our next coffee will take place on Monday, December 10th from 5:30-6:30 in the Lane cafeteria. Please feel free to bring any treats/baked goods to share. We will provide coffee and tea!

    Childcare will be provided for evening Principals' Coffees.

    We apologize for any confusion over the date for November and want to clarify that there is no admin coffee tomorrow, 11/30. We hope that having all the dates and times in advance will allow for more parents to attend. 

    Admin. Coffee Dates 18-19 Year.pdf 

  • Vestal After School Plans

    Please remember if you are changing after school plans to email both Susie Fung and your child’s homeroom teacher. Thank you!
  • Attn: 8th Graders- ACCESS HS Options

    ACCESS 8th grade students are assigned--by default--to their neighborhood schools in Synergy. Therefore if you want your student to attend their neighborhood school, no action is required by families. There is one exception to this is- if students live in a dual-assignment area such as the Jefferson boundary, you will need to choose between Jefferson and the dual assignment school, OR you will need to make another one of the available choices listed below.

    Visit for more information on high school choices. Students also have guaranteed transfer option to Grant High. If families choose this option, you will need to fill out the transfer petition on

    PPS High School Options for ACCESS Students- 

    1. Attend neighborhood school  

      1. Action required: NONE – unless student lives within Jefferson boundary*

    2. Attend Grant High

      1. Action required: Fill out transfer petition:

    3. Apply in the lottery to focus option such as Benson.

      1. Action required: Enter lottery:

  • PE for ACCESS@Lane

    The Lane PE Teacher has been out with an injury and as soon as he returns, we will begin shared PE for 4th and 5th periods. The only reason this can’t happen for 6th grade/3rd period is that ACCESS wanted an earlier start time and we shifted our schedule. The desire of the ACCESS Community to start and end earlier than Lane affected our PE for period 3. This was a decision made by ACCESS and requested by families prior to the start of the school year. Unfortunately all aspects and effects of the schedule shift were not initially obvious and now we know. With our shift, our 3rd period moved to coincide with Lane’s entire student population recess, and the gym is their primary recess location.

    The PE requirement is for one full quarter of PE for MS students each year. Our goal is 2 with our 3 or 2 week sessions, depending on cohort. Next quarter 6th grade/period 3 will be focused on Health, so gym space is not an issue until 3rd quarter. I am looking at schedule shifting options 3rd quarter to allow for gym use for all grades, all PE focused quarters this year. Next school year, I will look to shifting periods of PE for ACCESS students so that it does not fall during 3rd period/Lane lunch and recess. But again I want to reiterate that this was only due to ACCESS switch of instructional day in response to Community request, not due to any lack of support from Lane administration or collaboration between us. Jeandre Carbone has been nothing short of gracious and open to positive problem solving from day 1! Thank you Jeandre.

  • TAG Identification for all ACCESS Students

    It was interesting for David and me to learn that there were many students at ACCESS who are not officially identified as TAG, even though they of course meet the criteria for TAG identification. We are working with Linda Smith and the TAG department to streamline this identification and it should not require any action on your part. We’ll keep you updated, but this should simply be a system records procedure on our part.
  • Window Replacement

    Last weekend, our side entrance window was vandalized by a pellet gun. It was immediately replaced by facilities. It is unfortunate that vandalism occurs, particularly at a school. But I would like to thank our custodian Tim Curtin for fast action in contacting facilities to repair the window within 24 hours.

  • CELL Phone Policy at Lane

    Teachers and students had discussions around cell phone use and policy in our advisory classes, then had student representatives from each class help construct the plan as group. I think it was an incredible process and way for students to take ownership of their own digital citizenry, as well as protected the rights, safety, and comfort of all individuals. The final policy summary is that students can use phones in passing times and at lunch, with an absolute rule being no filming or pictures of anyone else at the school. Phone use in class is determined by the teacher and academic purpose. Each teacher has outlined the policy and posted it in their own classroom. Violations of any teacher, or school policy result in a warning to put the phone away, a second ask would result in the student giving the teacher the phone for the period, and any repeat/concern over a phone issue would proceed to a meeting between teacher, myself, and students to find a solution.

  • MAP Testing

    Students in 1-8 have been engaging in the MAP (Measure of Academic Progress) testing the last 2 weeks. Testing is MAP/NWEA. It is a PPS internal adaptive growth assessment that is used to see where students are now in Math and Reading and a number of skills within each subject. It allows teachers, parents, and students to see the data, work together to set goals based on their strengths and areas for growth, and support targeted grouping for differentiated instruction. It takes the place of the EasyCBM that has been used in the past. Here is the link for parent information and resourcesTeachers will be sharing the data with you as ONE peice of your child’s progress at conferences. It is important to remember that any assessment is one piece in a larger “body of evidence” and the puzzle that encompasses your child as a learner, person, and global citizen.  I have worked with this assessment tool since 2006 and love the information, reports, and growth data it provides. It is used extensively at international schools and I’m thrilled that PPS has adopted this assessment tool.

  • Staffing Updates- We would like to welcome:

    Tara Sylvester, our new Special Education teacher at Vestal. She comes to us from Baton Rouge and is dual certified in SPED and Gifted Education. She will be spending her first 2 weeks with us meeting with each family she services, to get to know the students, their IEPs, and their unique needs and talents. David and/or I will be attending many of these meetings as well. Welcome Tara!

    Corrie Chambers, our new EA at Lane will also be adding FTE from our Foundation Funding to spend time at Vestal each day. She is a local parent and PTA member, who has children in PPS. She will be starting her days at Vestal and will head over to Lane each day to support our lunch and recess. Thank you for taking on this additional role and getting to know and work with students at both ACCESS campuses Corrie!

    Aurel Coste, our long awaited Math teacher at Lane will be joining us at long last, next Thursday! His priority coming in will be to connect with students and send a survey to families to determine where students are and share with families the curriculum and plan for his courses. Welcome Aurel!